Prime Minister reveals plans for opening up public data

News 2 Jun, 2010

As part of a drive to try to increase transparency, David Cameron has named the top-earning civil servants working in IT.

The Prime Minister has written to all Government departments this week, telling them his plans to make public sector data more transparent.

David Cameron has pledged to make more information readily available online so citizens can monitor what their taxes are paying for.

The pledge follows Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s campaign for open data, which he called for during the not-for-profit TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in July last year and reiterated last week when his Institute for Web Science fell victim to Government budget cuts.

In his letter, Cameron said: “Greater transparency across Government is at the heart of our shared commitment to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account, to reduce the deficit and deliver better value for money in public spending and to realise significant economic benefits by enabling businesses and non-profit organisations to build innovative applications and websites using public data.”

In January, the Labour Government started the ball rolling with open data when it introduced the data.gov.uk website.

Now Cameron and his coalition are continuing to push for more data to be made available, with details of the number of MRSA infections – on a hospital-by-hospital basis – as well as the Treasury’s COINS database of public spending some of the first documents to be published.

The Government has also published a list of wages for civil servants earning over £150,000. Of 173 civil servants, seven work primarily in IT.

The top-earner is Joe Harley, the IT director-general and chief information officer (CIO) at the Department for Work and Pensions, who earned between £245,000 and £249,999 a year.

He was followed by John Suffolk, CIO at the Cabinet Office and chair of the CIO council, earning between £205,000 and £209,999 a year. The top woman in public sector IT, Christine Connelly, CIO at the Department of Health, earns £200,000 to £204,999, the data shows.

Rounding up the high earners were Andy Nelson, CIO at the Ministry of Justice (£190,000 -£194,999), Phil Pavitt, CIO for HM Revenues and Customs (£180,000-£184,999), Martin Bellamy, ICT director at the Department of Health (£160,000-£164,999) and Nick Ramsay, director of ICT portfolio and programmes at the Ministry of Justice (also £160,000-£164,999).

The Government also revealed that Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude will chair the new Public Sector Transparency Board, which will try to set open data standards across the public sector and develop the so-called legal Right to Data.

The Board will include Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, who was going to be working on the Institute for Web Science alongside the world wide web creator.

The Prime Minister also confirmed his pledge to publish all future central Government ICT contracts online. This will begin in July, he said.